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Caregiver Contest Finalist Connie: Tips for a Dementia Patient

Aimee Sharp
Author | Shield HealthCare
09/13/18  1:48 PM PST
Dementia Patient

Connie B. is from Illinois, and was one of forty finalists chosen out of the over 1,000 entries to our “What Advice Would You Give to a Fellow Caregiver?” Contest. You can find our grand prize and runner up winners here.

What advice would you give a fellow caregiver?

My husband and I were caregivers for his mother for over three years due to her dementia. At first it wasn’t too difficult. She was always a joyful person. But just a few short months later her dementia had moved on to the next stage. She became combative and didn’t want to do anything we said. The best way we handled the combativeness was not to argue with her. If it wasn’t harming her what difference did it make. Besides, she’d forget about it five minutes later anyway. And if she didn’t want to do something we said, we turned it around and made it her idea.

One time I remember we were trying to get her to take a bath. “Nope, don’t want to,” she’d say. Then my husband said, “Well, didn’t you make us kids take a bath on Saturday because we had church the next day? Well, we’ve got church in the morning.”

So right away she took her bath.

There were also times when she hid everything. There was no reason for us not to be trusted. It was the disease. We never said anything or asked her why, but we discreetly watched to be sure it wasn’t anything important we would need later.

She also repeated herself in one stage of her dementia. It can get very frustrating and very annoying, but you’ve got to remember, it’s the disease. All you need to do is smile and let it go. Or she would ask the same question over and over. And I learned to answer it in the same words and use the same tone of voice. Because to her, she was hearing it for the first time.

Probably the best advice I could give is to FIND A CAREGIVER SUPPORT GROUP. That’s a place where caregivers get together and share their journeys. Being a caregiver can be very tough. The most important thing is that you learn you are not alone. And what you say at those meetings stays at those meetings. Caregivers share ideas and make suggestions. The idea is to help you through your journey.  And even after your journey is over, it still may not be over. You may feel you’ve lost your sense of purpose. Before, you pretty much knew what your day was going to be like — now, your loved one no longer needs you and you may feel lost. Caregiver support groups can help with that too. So my advice is to keep going. What you learned in your journey may be of help to someone whose journey just started.

I feel caregiving is the toughest job you’ll ever love.

Click here to head to the contest home page and read more advice.

Finalists were selected by the Marketing Team at Shield HealthCare. Those finalists were submitted to a panel of independent judges who picked three grand prize winners and five runners up. The judges included: Sandra Mitchell, Award-winning KCAL 9 news anchor and breast cancer survivor, and the Landers family: actor and comedian David Landers (“Laverne & Shirley”) who is living with MS, his wife Kathy and his daughter Natalie (“The Middle”). Click here to learn more.


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